July 30, 2006

Omey Races 2006

Omey Beach Races took place yesterday. I'll put up a full post and gallery this evening (I have to go and climb a hill first).

It will be tomorrow before I get to post the gallery. For anyone coming down for the Galway Races this week, bring your wellies. It's been raining since last night.

Posted by Monasette at 09:21 AM | Comments (2)

July 28, 2006

Stairway to Heaven

Scorchio! Croagh Patrick last Sunday. It'll be even more wintery this Sunday. Summer, eh?

If you're short of misery in your life at present, you could always climb Croagh Patrick this weekend. "The Reek", a few miles west of Westport is a giant pyramid of Quartzite (700 metres high, and 400 million years ago) that has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. A caller to Liveline rang in on Tuesday [I'm on vacation - that's the only reason I was listening, honest] to complain that Reek Sunday (July 30th, this coming Sunday) has been hijacked by too many interests. Which kind of misses the point. A pilgrimage of thousands is always going to attract something of a circus - if he wants peace and quiet, go any other day.

I climbed it last Sunday with some of my fellow Galway Walking Club members, and the same thought occurred to us all; it's always worse than how you last remembered it. We climbed almost the entire ridge, as marked by the white '*' in the Google Earth screenshot below.

Climbing the Reek is always a humbling experience - we had plenty of equipment (boots, waterproofs, etc) - but there's always someone else doing it harder or faster. Last weekend, a bunch of cyclists raised funds for Chernobyl Children by cycling from Galway to Croagh Patrick, climbing it and cycling home again (I nearly got faint thinking about it). More relaxed was the young Polish chap who, dressed in his Sunday best and accompanied by his girlfriend, strolled to the top with breaking sweat. He sat near our group at the top, and while we ate our picnic lunch in the near-freezing fog at the top (yes I know it supposed to be summer), he took out his own provisions; a packet of cigarettes and a can of Heineken. Respect.

If you don't find what you're looking for on the top of Ireland's holiest mountain, maybe this will do the trick instead. Bring your drinking pants.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:09 PM | Comments (2)

Hops Springs Eternal

Well, we've had the life aquatic and disco-dancing cops, but talking kangaroos have proved to be the most popular of all - the kids loved them [and they found it perfectly natural to natter away to talking 'roos ]. The youngster in the picture above hopped all the way to Eyre Square alongside his new-found friends. I've updated the Galway Arts Festival gallery with a few more pictures.

Camera = Canon 350D , lens = Sigma 10-20mm@10mm, ISO=200, aperture=f8, speed=1/125 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 01:48 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2006

Parched ?

This guy was strolling up from the Docks along Lough Atalia Rd. in Galway towards the Radisson (someone should have told him that there is a swimming pool in the hotel). At least, I think he had been swimming (either that or the Arts Festival is getting weirder). Picture taken this evening during rush hour - though no-one actually gets to rush anywhere...

Camera = Canon 5D , lens = Canon 100-400mm@120mm, ISO=1000, aperture=f8, speed=1/400 sec.

Dublin is short of water. Pity about them. Plans have been mooted to pipe water from the west - luckily, there's no shortage of it there. In fact, while the east is getting baked, the west is getting soaked. My parents are currently sunning themselves in Rosslare, while I was dodging showers in the Burren, and a racing meeting was cancelled in Ballinrobe due to a downpour. Now, I wonder how much we can charge the Jackeens for the uisce...?

Every time there is a downpour in Galway, there's always someone who'll drive fast enough to send waves of water over unsuspecting pedestrians. And surprise, surprise, it's a Dublin driver...(picture taken yesterday afternoon).

Camera = Canon 5D , lens = Canon 100-400mm@275mm, ISO=320, aperture=f7.1, speed=1/400 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:22 PM | Comments (1)

Police Action

I don't think this is what Michael McDowell had in mind for his Garda Reserve. But wouldn't it be great if it was...?

Cirq Civil got a great reception yesterday through the streets of Galway. I've updated the 2006 Galway Arts Festival gallery with a few more pics.

Posted by Monasette at 10:44 AM | Comments (3)

July 21, 2006

One Plucking Thing after Another

Status of Padraic O'Conaire in the lobby of the newly opened Galway City Museum.

The Project 06 team really hit the nail on the head when they brought over The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain for two nights - Wednesday and last night in the Warwick, Salthill - foot-stomping fun all the way. John Kelly used to play them a bit on his Mystery Train radio show (now cancelled in an RTE shake-up, no doubt to be replaced by what Spike Milligan used to call a "What's My Arsehole"-type talk show). They didn't play my favourite - Miss Dynamite-e - but I doubt if any other act in the next two weeks will top their cover of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights (complete with verse sung in a Yorkshire accent [for historical accuracy, y'unnerstand?]) or indeed , their version of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit (Google video clip here).

Interior of Galway City Museum.

Eric Bogle was in a more mellow mood in the Radisson the night before, though both acts had one thing in common - it was bloody roasting in both venues. Aidan Dunne, writing in yesterday's Irish Times, had a good round-up of the visual arts on display during the Project 06/Galway Arts Festival, and called for a bigger arts space in the city. He didn't mention the display space in the newly opened Galway City Museum down in the Claddagh (which has free admission for the next few months). There's plenty of free display space there, and it's in a great location - their café is an ideal place for Sunday brunch. Alternatively, they could ask the National Museum to give back some of their Galway exhibits so that they can be displayed locally [most of the National Museum collection is in storage due to space constraints in Dublin]. I once asked the museum where I could access their catalogue online to do some research. Fat chance - the response was that there was 5 million items in the musuem and I'd have to go there if I wanted to look up anything. So much for being 'National'. The chances are that anything I was looking for was probably sitting in a crate anyway. So how's about it ? Send some of the Galway artifacts back home, where people can see them, and for God's sake, put the catalogue online .

Posted by Monasette at 01:00 PM | Comments (2)

July 20, 2006

The Bizzarium Street Aquarium

Les Sages Fous theatre put on a great show in Eyre Square this afternoon with their Bizzarium Street Aquarium. I'm going to put all of my Arts Festival pics in the same Flickr folder [I'll update it as I take more shots over the next week and a half] - feel free to wander over when you can (not as good as actually wandering about the streets of Galway, mind).

Posted by Monasette at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2006

Artistic Integrity

The Galway Arts Festival opened on Monday night with free booze and music at the Galway Bay Hotel. There were a few speeches too. First up was the artistic director, Paul Fahy, who thanked all and sundry. Fair enough. That was followed by the new Mayor of Galway, Niall Ó Brolcháin, who spent so much time going on about the commercial benefit of the festival to the city that I thought he was going to exhort the crowd to go out and pickpocket as many tourists as possible [as if we needed to be asked]. Lastly, and leastly, was a speech by Pauline McGlynn, as good an example of smarminess and oleaginous luvvieness as you could hope to find, and she seemed oblivious to the fact that her patronising words of encouragement to the Project06 gang was probably exactly one of the reasons they set it up in the first place.

As for the Festival programme itself, it must be just a coincidence that there is far more free street activities than usual (that's exactly what Project 06 promised). As for the rest, it's a little bit underwhelming - I'm particularly disappointed by the variety of drama on offer.

Still, it's summer in Galway, so we'll just have to soldier on...I don't have a picture of the launch, so this picture of a braying ass will have to do instead.

Camera = Canon 5D , lens = Canon 100-400mm@160mm, ISO=250, aperture=f10, speed=1/250 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 06:49 PM | Comments (1)

July 17, 2006

The High Five

Five-spot Burnet [Zygaena trifolii] collects pollen on a Common Knapweed flower [Centaurea nigra] in a Burren meadow near Doolin - picture taken on July 15 2006.

Camera = Canon 5D , lens = Canon 100-400mm@400mm, ISO=400, aperture=f10, speed=1/250 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2006


You want it when ? Heatwave (until Wednesday at least) + Arts Festival = very little done. Picture of donkey foal taken in Doolin on Saturday on a hot and hazy afternoon.

Camera = Canon 5D , lens = Canon 100-400mm@190mm, ISO=250, aperture=f10, speed=1/160 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

The High Life

It must be high summer when the big wheel reappears in Salthill, just in time to coincide with a long stretch of warm, sunny weather. Picture taken last night.

Camera = Canon 350D , lens = Sigma 10-20mm@11mm, ISO=100, aperture=f22, speed=2.5 sec, tripod.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:01 AM | Comments (1)

July 11, 2006


So, which bit do you want? Scrap metal heap in Galway Harbour.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:28 PM | Comments (2)

July 08, 2006

Achill Surfers

'Is there anything to do today?', wondered the three young female tourists [a tad forlornly] in The Beehive coffee shop on Achill island yesterday, as the mid-morning rain splattered against the windows. I confessed that I was thinking of heading straight back to Galway, and couldn't offer much in the way of encouragement.

One of them was a surfer - unfortunately for her, I didn't realise that a bunch of hardy souls down the road weren’t sitting inside looking out at the rain. These lads from Northern Ireland managed to tear themselves away from the festivities at home to spend the weekend on a wet and windy campsite on Achill [mind you, I’m writing this with one eye on a beautiful sunny Galway Bay outside, so maybe they’re not suffering too much]. Yesterday, cold driving rain belied the fact it was mid-July.

The setting is idyllic – Keel Lough lies between Sliabh Mór and the huge stretch of white sand at Keem – the water is only a couple of feet in most places, so when you take a fall, it’s easy to get up and start again. I think this is called parasurfing and, because the wind was so strong, they were literally flying up and down the lake. Gallery to follow during the week.

Camera = Canon 5D , lens = Canon 100-400mm@400mm, ISO=500, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/500 sec, 98 Mondeo [I was sheltering inside it taking the shot].

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Posted by Monasette at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

Gimme Shelter

My other shelter is also a Merc - sheep on Achill Island, Co. Mayo dodge the driving rain this afternoon.

It rained for every minute of the day today, and the plan to leave early for Achill Island this morning didn't mean that there was a couple of hours of decent light in the morning - it just meant that I got wet earlier.

Camera = Canon 5D , lens = Canon 100-400mm@260mm, ISO=500, aperture=f7.1, speed=1/500sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:07 PM | Comments (3)

July 07, 2006

Summer Showers

Hmm...we're still waiting for that heatwave...summer shower in Roscommon - this was taken a little over a month ago, but there are plenty of rain clouds still about.

Posted by Monasette at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

The enemy within

Louder than bombs...grafitti stencilled about 200 yards from the site of the Madrid train bombings. It reads "A lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth".

A year ago today, my parents decided to take a morning train from Kings Cross, London. It was delayed. They were a bit confused by my early morning call, prompted by the BBC news website report of multiple explosions on the Tube. Their train had pulled out of Kings Cross 20 minutes before the explosion (on a different line), and despite the confusion, their train to Holyhead reached its destination later that day. There were probably thousands of people who passed through Kings Cross and the other stations that morning unscathed, 52 who will never make another journey in London or anywhere again, and another 800 scarred for life.

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Posted by Monasette at 07:21 AM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2006

230 years old today

By dawn's early light...a freezing cold dawn on Silver Strand, Galway, taken in January.

A friend of mine was in Italy recently at a bridge tournament . She was playing in a mixed pair competition, where she and her partner played a number of games against other couples - after a number of games , they moved on to the next table and played another couple [at least I think that's what happened - my eyes tend to glaze over at bridge stories]. Anyway, one of the American couples that they played contained a former World Ladies Champion, and unsurprisingly, that couple won [though not by much]. In fact, the aforementioned Lady gave her male partner a right old tongue-lashing for his performance after the game. So much so, that he didn't even respond to my friend's pleasantries after the game. Or maybe he was still trying to figure out how to spend all that money that Warren Buffet is going to give him. Not many amateur bridge players turn up to play with a world champion in a private jet and bodyguard, but Bill Gates is one of them. Good old Bill - it's not enough for his team to win even at bridge - he's got to win big. On this day, Bill, lighten up. For the rest of your countrymen and women, happy Independence Day. And to the handful of you in orbit, Godspeed and safe home.

Camera = Canon 350D , lens = Sigma 10-20mm@10mm, ISO=100, aperture=f11, speed=1/8 sec, tripod.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:57 PM | Comments (5)

July 03, 2006

Looking Up

In an effort to get more women to join the Irish Army, the height restriction has been dropped. Only fair, I suppose, since there isn't one for the Minister for Defence…[As it happens, Alan Shatter made the same point in the Dail about An Garda Síochána 12 years ago].

Camera = Canon 5D , lens = Canon 100-400mm@400mm, ISO=250, aperture=f18, speed=1/500 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2006

I Heart Galway

Skywriting over Galway Bay during the Salthill Airshow last week. For flying machines with feathers, you should pop over to Sean's site - he was in Saltee recently and took a set of simply fantastic shots of the seabird colonies nesting there [like this one] - great compostions, great exposures - I'm more than a bit envious. [He hasn't finished posting them so you'll have to keep checking]. Another great nature site belongs to Estonian photographer Remo Savisaar - consistently excellent.

Camera = Canon 350D , lens = Sigma 10-20mm@10mm, ISO=400, aperture=f9, speed=1/1000 sec, polarizer.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:07 PM | Comments (1)

July 01, 2006


"Good morning, good morning!" the General said,
When we met him last week on the way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead,
And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
"He's a cheery old card" grunted Harry to Jack,
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.
But he did for them both with his plan of attack.

There was plenty of chatter, during the Easter Rising commemoration in April, about the belief in blood sacrifice on the part of Pearse and some of the other rebel leaders. Which seems rather to miss the point of what was happening that year.

At this moment, ninety years ago, the whistles blew and tens of thousands of British soldiers clambered out of their trenches in the Somme valley and set off on that summer morning towards the German trenches to the north-east. There were plenty of Irish soldiers among them – from Ulster, regiments of the Royal Irish Rifles (part of the Ulster Division), from Leinster, the Leinster Regiment and the Dublin Fusiliers, from Munster, the Royal Munster Fusiliers, and from the west, the Connaught Rangers (all part of the 16th Irish Division). Many of them did not live to see nightfall. Some never made it more than a footstep from their trenches.

The red carpets of poppies became synonomous with the First World War – the flowers thrive on disturbed ground. There’s plenty of disturbed earth in Ireland right now, but not because of conflict. The whole country is a building site – and the poppies are as much a symbol of the economic boom as anything else. And the same nationalities that busied themselves ninety years ago trying to slaughter each other in the Somme will spend today in Galway as visitors, friends and neighbours – with little more than the World Cup to argue over.

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Posted by Monasette at 07:30 AM | Comments (0)